Judge delays lawsuit against Tharp

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A civil lawsuit against Tupelo attorney Kirk Tharp is on hold pending resolution of a misdemeanor assault charge against him in Lee County Justice Court.
“I’m saying until it’s resolved,” said Senior Circuit Judge Kenneth Coleman of Okolona on Wednesday, “even if it goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Tharp is accused of attacking 18-year-old Kurtis Yarbrough at the Mooreville One Stop on Sept. 10.
Trial is set for Nov. 29 on that charge.
Yarbrough’s attorney, Jamie Franks of Tupelo, argued Wednesday that he should be allowed to gather evidence, including Tharp’s questioning under oath, while the criminal case is pending.
Franks said his client was injured, his hearing aids damaged during the incident, and he’s had to drop out of school.
Without moving ahead on the civil case, Franks said Yarbrough is hurt by the delay.
Tharp’s attorney, Kent Smith of Holly Springs, urged the judge to stop the civil process until the criminal case is resolved to avoid his client’s potential self-incrimination under oath in a deposition.
“We think it’s unfair to force him to answer discovery questions,” Smith insisted. “Mr. Tharp suffers huge prejudice if he’s forced to go forward” in the civil case.
Coleman said that because a video exists of the alleged incident, the record won’t change.
“This case is better served by sustaining the defense motions,” he said.
In Justice Court, Tharp pleaded not guilty to Yarbrough’s complaint and is free on $500 bond. Harry Sumner of Tupelo represents him on that charge.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com